Next-Generation TV Viewership Data Drives Next-Generation Measurement

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Editor’s note: Noah Levine will be moderating a 605 sponsored panel session with industry experts from Discovery, Omnicom, Walmart and Viacom at Advertising Week NYC on Thursday, September 26th: Measurement Matters: Your Viewership Source Matters

We are in the midst of a revolution in the TV market. The way audiences consume content is evolving: across devices and services; time-shifting, binging and live; ad-free and ad-supported. Media companies are merging and re-inventing themselves to compete against walled garden tech-giants, disruptive business models and deep pockets. Privacy laws to protect consumers are proliferating. With last-click attribution, digital display, search and short form video are slowly eating away at TV advertising budgets.

And yet, the U.S. television advertising market still transacts more than $60 billion a year around the same age and gender measurement standards that have existed for decades. TV media sellers and buyers recognize the ineffectiveness of the legacy measurement and are increasingly using alternative audience guarantees to transact. Through all of this, the industry is innovating to provide better experiences for the audience, new solutions for marketers and media sellers and reformulation of the business model that supports the content we all love to consume. For us lucky souls who work in this market, we are living in interesting times.

No doubt, you will see numerous sessions at Advertising Week; the focus will be about the latest measurement and attribution innovations to assist with navigating this period of change and disruption.

Some of the conversations will touch on the essential fact that we need to build a bridge between the TV and digital universes. But to accomplish this, the discussion will need to involve next-generation measurement, which in turn requires next-generation TV viewership data.

Next-generation TV viewership data isn’t as easy to come by as the market would like to have you think. To truly support the future, TV viewership data needs to have the following qualities: deterministic data activation and census style scale from multiple types of viewership sources – i.e. Set Top Box (STB) and Smart TV (ACR) data.

Deterministic Data Activation

Meaningful activation of any first- or third-party data set for planning, transaction, measurement or attribution requires anonymous data matching with TV viewership at the individual household level across many millions of households. Any TV viewership data set that requires look-alike modeling to support activating data with TV viewership is introducing significant statistical variability, especially when matching with digital data.

A little-known fact about TV viewership data sources: not all the households in a TV dataset are actually match-able. Smart TV / ACR data usually requires matching on IP address, which is able to be activated approximately 50% of the time. Suddenly, your ACR viewership data source size has been halved. Even cable and satellite STB data sources have a loss rate matching against home mailing address, albeit nominal compared to the digital universe.

Lastly, different TV viewership sources have different matching rights. Not all TV viewership sources can match on 100% of their households. Some can match on only 10% of their households, while others can match on 90%. This is an important question to ask of any data provider.

Census Scale

Next generation TV measurement requires TV viewership data sources that have massive scale, not only for deterministic data activation but also for understanding the increasingly intricate nuances of viewership in the home and out of the home. The vast amount of broad and niche content, increased time-shifted viewing as well as shifting traditional and digital distribution modalities require a wide net to measure what is truly being watched.

There is no single source of national census viewership data available in the market today. However, some TV viewership data sources have over twenty million households which, when combined with deterministic data activation and a currency grade projection methodology, offer the best national TV viewership data available.

Multi-Source Viewership

Combining STB, ACR and Over the Air (OTA) viewership data sources provides the clearest picture of TV viewership across an entire home. Whole home TV viewership is important to understand as the average U.S. home has somewhere between 2.3 and 2.8 TV sets depending upon the study.

STB data provides the best view into whole home viewership measuring close to 2.8 TV’s per MVPD household. That being said, MVPD data may have some geographic skews depending on the provider. It is also possible that the set-top-box may be on, but another device is playing on the TV glass (or the TV might be turned off).

While STB data provides whole home viewership, ACR data provides the ultimate view into what is playing back on the TV glass. This augments STB data by allowing for more accurate cap and edit rules, increased geographic coverage and a view into OTA and OTT viewership. Most ACR data is, on average, limited to only one TV in a household, leaving a significant gap in TV viewership.

Any measurement provider exclusively using ACR data may be missing more than half of the viewership occurring in the home. Additionally, the Smart TV that is collecting the ACR data may not be the primary TV set in the household, resulting in much lighter viewership and meaningful content skews.

Solution providers, including 605, are innovating to deliver next generation TV viewership data that addresses these challenges. With next generation TV measurement in place, the unparalleled impact that TV delivers for marketers becomes clearly evident when compared to all other platforms. In order for this to be a success, we must bridge the TV and digital universes using deterministic data activation on top of census scale, multi-source TV viewership. Next generation measurement powered by next generation TV viewership data will finally allow TV to compete with digital on equal footing.

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